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Seahawks RB Chris Carson
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Seahawks use big 3rd quarter to beat Vikings 37-30, take NFC West lead

With the Seattle Seahawks needing a win to move into first place in the NFC West and avoid falling to the sixth seed in the NFC, they trailed by seven points at halftime.

And there was no reason to panic.

Seahawks 37, Vikings 30: 3 stars | Reaction | Playoff picture update | Stats

The Seahawks took firm control after exploding on a 24-0 run at one point in the second half, and they hung on on to beat the Vikings 37-30, making them one of five teams with an NFL-best 10-2 record.

Among those 10-2 teams are the San Francisco 49ers, who Seattle holds a tiebreaker over for the NFC West lead after beating them in overtime in Week 10, and the New Orleans Saints, who out-rank the Seahawks for the No. 1 seed in the NFC due to a Week 3 win in Seattle.

The Hawks rode their run game to the win, with starting running back Chris Carson rushing for 101 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, and Rashaad Penny adding 74 yards and a score on 15 carries. Penny also had four receptions for 33 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown.

Seattle shook off two turnovers, the first of which was especially hurtful. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pick-six after he had a pass batted near the line of scrimmage. The ball traveled back toward him, and he batted it back in the air to keep it alive. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, Vikings safety Anthony Harris caught the ball and ran 20 yards to put Minnesota ahead 14-7 in the second quarter.

Wilson rebounded, throwing a 60-yard touchdown to David Moore late in the third quarter during Seattle’s 24-point run and finishing 21 for 31 passing for 240 yards and two TDs. DK Metcalf (75 yards) and Jacob Hollister (44 yards) each had six receptions, while Tyler Lockett was held to no catches on three targets.

Seattle’s defense had no sacks but Tre Flowers had an interception and Bradley McDougald recovered a fumble caused by Rasheem Green.

Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook, who entered the game as the league’s fifth-leading rusher, was held to 29 yards on nine carries and left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.

Vikings QB Kirk Cousins completed 22 of 38 passes for 276 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Nine different receivers caught at least one pass for Minnesota, but none had more than 58 yards through the air.

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter look at Seattle’s win.

First quarter

Seahawks 7, Vikings 7

The Seahawks’ first appearance in a green jersey/blue pants combination in 10 years started out in a fashion that made you wonder if it would end as disastrously as the other time they wore something similar.

While Seattle suffered a memorable loss to the Chicago Bears in that 2009 contest, they simply just didn’t get off to a good start in this Monday Night Football matchup with Minnesota. First, the Hawks lost the coin toss and had to receive the opening kickoff rather than their preference of deferring to the second half. Then they didn’t just punt after only five plays on their first series, but Carson’s head had a scary collision with Hollister on that initial drive that knocked him out of the game.

Only momentarily, however.

And while multiple displays of poor tackling by Seattle’s defense allowed Minnesota to take a 7-0 lead on a six-play, 83-yard drive that looked all too easy for Cousins, Cook and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, the lead didn’t last long.

Carson returned on Seattle’s second series and even capped off a 14-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run that evened the score. The Seahawks converted a pair of third downs on the drive, with big plays coming from Wilson connections with Josh Gordon for 10 yards and Metcalf for 19 to get the ball near the goal line.

Penny also followed up his breakout game from eight days prior by rushing for 23 yards on four carries in the first quarter.

MIN – Dalvin Cook 2 run (Dan Bailey kick, 7-0 MIN), 8:12
SEA – Chris Carson 1 run (Jason Myers kick, 7-7), :11

Second quarter

Vikings 17, Seahawks 10

After the Vikings’ offense moved with the ease of a hot knife through butter on its first drive against Seattle’s defense, the Seahawks needed to make a statement on the second.

They did. Unfortunately the defense wasn’t on the field when Seattle needed it the most, however.

Minnesota went ahead 14-7 as Wilson was intercepted by Harris in one of the more bizarre pick-sixes you’ll ever see, and the Vikings took a lead for a second time with just over five minutes to go until halftime.

But let’s go back and tell the story order.

On Minnesota’s second drive of the day, the Seahawks forced the Vikings into a punt after six plays, with a key tackle by McDougald holding wide receiver Bisi Johnson to a 1-yard gain on third-and-8 from the Minnesota 42.

The Seahawks’ offense came up a yard short of a first down on its next possession, but the defense continued to have an answer for the Vikings, again making Minnesota punt after six plays. Ziggy Ansah, the defensive end who has looked like a different player since Seattle’s Week 11 bye, pressured Cousins on third-and-2 to contribute to an incompletion.

That’s when Harris struck with the interception. A Wilson pass attempt was batted near the line of scrimmage by defensive tackle Armon Watts, and the ball traveled back near Wilson, who tried to keep the play alive by batting it in the air himself. That turned out to be the wrong decision, as Harris came flying in to catch the ball and return it 20 yards for a score, making it 14-7 Minnesota.

The Seahawks’ offense got back on track after receiving the ball on the ensuing kickoff, picking up 62 yards over 10 plays, but Seattle stalled out at the Minnesota 11. Kicker Jason Myers’ number was called, and he connected on a 29-yard field goal to bring the Hawks back within four points with under a minute left on the clock.

The Vikings were not only able to get into Seahawks territory with time ticking down, but they reached the Seattle 29 on a 10-yard pass to Diggs with a second to go. That was well in Minnesota kicker Dan Bailey’s range, and he pushed the Vikings’ lead back to seven points with a 47-yard field goal as the game went to halftime.

MIN – Anthony Harris 20 interception return (Bailey kick, 14-7 MIN), 5:09
SEA – Jason Myers 29 FG (14-10 MIN), :58
MIN – Bailey 47 FG (17-10 MIN), :00

Third quarter

Seahawks 27, Vikings 17

So, the Seahawks went into their locker room at halftime trailing by a touchdown?

They had the Vikings right where they wanted them.

A big rush by Carson, a Penny touchdown and a most upsetting fumble for the Vikings faithful later and Seattle was right back in business.

Though the Seahawks had to open the second half kicking the kickoff instead of receiving it, they came up with a quick stop on defense, and the offense rode the momentum into a game-tying TD. Seattle covered 71 yards on nine plays, including a 25-yard rush by Carson one play after a 15-yard penalty on the Vikings for unnecessary roughness on a late hit on Carson. Penny eventually found the end zone on a 1-yard run, and six minutes into the second half, Seattle had moved into a 17-17 tie.

On Minnesota’s next possession, Cook took a handoff but had the ball dislodged by Green, and McDougald jumped on the fumble to recover it for Seattle. That arguably wasn’t even the biggest development from that play, as both Cook and Diggs stayed down on the field due to injury. Cook went back to the locker room with a shoulder issue and was deemed questionable to return, while Diggs, who did come back into the game, had his ankle/Achilles stepped on by a Seahawks player who was being driven back by a block.

Though Seattle wasn’t able to find the end zone again after recovering the fumble, it still turned the takeaway into points as Myers kicked his second 29-yard field goal in as many quarters to give the Seahawks their first lead of night, 20-17.

They weren’t done, however. In fact, the likely highlight of the game came when Wilson looked up, saw a wide-open Moore and connected with the young wide receiver on a 60-yard touchdown that resulted in Seattle taking a 27-17 lead with five seconds left after scoring 17 unanswered points in the quarter.

SEA – Rashaad Penny 1 run (Myers kick, 17-17), 9:02
SEA – Myers 29 FG (20-17 SEA), 5:46
SEA – David Moore 60 pass from Russell Wilson (Myers kick, 27-17 SEA), :05

Fourth quarter

Seahawks 37, Vikings 30

The third quarter was where the Seahawks took control. The start of the fourth quarter is where they put the nail in the Vikings’ coffin. And then the Vikings un-nailed that coffin – for a bit.

Tre Flowers’ tight coverage resulted in the Seahawks cornerback coming up with an interception on the first play of the final quarter, and Seattle’s offense made took the short field and turned it into a 13-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Penny just three plays later.

To borrow one of Danny O’Neil’s favorite lines from The Princess Bride, the Vikings were only mostly dead, and a broken coverage by Seattle allowed Laquon Treadwell to make a surprising 58-yard touchdown catch to draw Minnesota back within 10 points with 12:49 to go.

Seattle didn’t take that lying down, and facing fourth-and-2 around midfield with a 10-point lead the Seahawks felt comfortable enough to resort to good old-fashioned trickery. The punt snap was directed to rookie running back Travis Homer, who picked up a whopping 29 yards before he was taken down.

Seattle re-opened the door for Minnesota, however, with Metcalf losing a fumble on a play that was reversed on a challenge. The Vikings stormed right down the field and moved with four with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Kyle Rudolph, but Bailey missed an important extra point, allowing Seattle to maintain a lead big enough to be protected from a field goal.

The Seahawks had to punt on their ensuing possession, and it seemed like it was up to the Vikings to score a touchdown if they were going to upset Seattle at home. They turned it over on downs after just five plays, and the Seahawks turned to Carson to either keep the clock running or get Minnesota to use up its timeouts. He rushed for 11 yards down to the 22 on third-and-1, giving Seattle a fresh set of downs near the red zone after the two-minute warning.

The Hawks added three points on a 36-yard field goal by Myers, and they recovered a fumble on the final kickoff to seal the victory.

SEA – Rashaad Penny 13 pass from Wilson (Myers kick, 34-17 SEA), 13:30
MIN – Laquon Treadwell 58 pass from Cousins (Bailey kick, 34-24 SEA), 12:49
MIN – Kyle Rudolph 3 pass from Cousins (kick failed, 34-30 SEA), 7:14
SEA – Myers 36 FG (37-30 SEA), :21

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